06 Jun 2018 17:21 IST

How to future-proof your marketing careers

As far as marketing is concerned, some jobs will be lost because of AI, some will be enhanced and some will be created | metamorworks/iStock

A number of marketing jobs are under threat because of automation and AI

I reviewed Satya Nadella’s Hit Refresh for my book lovers’ club last week. I picked the book because I felt I had to understand how AI and MI will impact marketing, as a function.

Since most of the participants were from corporate or academia, it was exciting to get perspectives on how technology will replace/is replacing jobs. Gartner’s study The State of Marketing 2016: What Gartner for Marketing Leaders’ Research Surveys Reveal, predicted that marketers would to overtake IT in technology spending in 2017. This means that every marketer — whether they are in research, planning, creative, branding or media — needs to up their technology quotient.

But how much are the jobs really threatened? What are the kinds of marketing jobs will be the most affected? And what time frame are we talking about?

The answer is complicated. As Hit Refresh suggests, there will come a time when AI will suggest new job descriptions for humans — this area, then, is difficult to decipher. But as far as marketing is concerned, some jobs will be lost because of AI, some will be enhanced and some jobs will be created.

While it is tough to disagree with the above statement, the speed at which it may happen, could be disruptive.

The AI effect

Artificial Intelligence is the science of making machines smart, to augment and enhance human capabilities. This comes in varying shapes and sizes, including machine learning, deep learning, natural language generation (NLG), natural language processing (NLP), and image recognition.

When an AI system learns to improve performances, its outputs are far more error-free than humans’, and this gives it the potential to improve exponentially in a short period of time.

Recently, there was a report where a computer learnt a few weeks of human chess moves and did it so well that it beat the world’s best chess-playing computer program. It is this ability to self-educate that makes AI a potential threat to certain marketing roles and duties.

Jobs at risk

There are numerous jobs that can be taken over by AI today. An American technology company called Automated Insights transfers natural language instructions into narratives. This can be useful for market research organisations that deal with reams of consumer Big Data. The output ranges from customer segmentation, persona insight, ideal media mix, message suggestions and even content creation.

Another tool, Phrasee writes better e-mail subject lines than humans. It can be adapted to write creative titles for ad agency writers as well. PaveAI is a software that gives a personal report of your goals and achievement and can be a good analytical tool for tracking market share/revenue performances.

Creating customer journey maps with detailed granular data on each step of the customer decision making process is also possible today, thanks to AI . It’s extremely accurate and can help brand managers decide exactly where to best put their monies, in terms of promotion and advertising, to lure customers towards products.

So, any job that consists of repetitive tasks risks being made obsolete through automation.

In the short term, telemarketers are in real trouble; there’s a 99 per cent chance their role will be automated. Advertising salespeople have a 50 per cent chance of losing their jobs to AI. Those in ad creation too may have a reason to worry — a software named Dynamic Creative Optimization or DCO can create up to 80 quintillion creative personalised ads per week.

What jobs may weather the storm?

Marketing managers and heads may not have so much to worry about, as a lot of their jobs depend of human judgement of situations — people, business and being creative. This cannot be easily replicated by AI.

Big data requires intelligent analysis. Human minds will be needed to sift through complex data and continually ask for more. AI solutions do offer ways to bridge the gap between data science and execution, but only for marketers who can make those connections.

Technology can relieve managers of the mundane data creation and sifting, leaving them free to do some strategic thinking, and allowing them to become more creative.

Future proofing careers

One thing is obvious — whether your job is at stake or not, marketers need to become more technologically savvy to stay relevant and understand what’s happening around them. The speed at which AI market is growing (there has been over four times’ rise in AI start-ups’ investment in the last five years) makes it extremely difficult to predict which marketing skills will be most sought after.

But there are a few ways marketers can future-proof their careers.

~ Proactively experiment with artificial intelligence

There’s nothing like starting early. Experiment with AI and try out the ones that interest you. The more you do, the more you’ll learn about the capabilities currently available in the market.

~ Enrol in a course

A number of online courses on AI are available. Since the field is still in its infancy, it’s the perfect time to learn about the technology’s foundational concepts, terminologies and potential. You can be a huge asset when your organisation decides to embrace AI.

~ Become organisation’s AI champion.

The best way to future-proof your career is to lead the charge for AI transformation within your organisation. You will be seen as pro-technology and in the process, also learn how to cope with the change yourself.

Conclusion

As automation is set to claim 50 per cent of most jobs in the next 30 years, opinions are varied about whether technology will one day have the ability to be just as creative as humans.

Critical thinking and creativity are difficult to digitise and automate and hence, marketing functions needs to hold on to these skills. While AI will liberate us to be more creative than before, humans should use this opportunity to build better value for businesses.

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